Hospice Helps Families Care
Donna Testa was busy caring for her husband, John, who has Parkinson’s Disease, when she was diagnosed with ALS, the degenerative neurological disease that has no known cure. Her illness progressed rapidly, and within a year he was struggling to care for her at home. At her doctor’s request, she was admitted to Lifetime Care’s Hildebrandt Hospice Care Center, where she died in March 2008. “As soon as we got to the Center, I had a great feeling of peace,” John recalls. “We had a lot more quality time together in those last few weeks than we had in the months before. We talked to each other, we watched TV together, we had a lot of friends come and visit us.”
Carmella Scorza had planned to see “Jersey Boys” with her daughter when the show’s national touring company came to Rochester. But her multiple myeloma progressed so rapidly that she moved into Fairport Baptist Home and signed up to receive hospice services from Lifetime Care. Her hospice nurse reached out through Channel 10 news anchor Janet Lomax to arrange for “Jersey Boys” cast members to visit Carmella at the nursing home in early March. Actors Joseph Leo Bwarie and Josh Franklin made the surprise visit, presenting Scorza with a “Jersey Boys” poster and souvenir book and performing songs from her favorite Broadway shows. “This is better than being on stage,” said Bwarie. Scorza said she would still love to see the show, but added, “Who has the ‘Jersey Boys’ come to their home? Thank you all.”
Maya Spencer was only seven years old when her grandfather died. Soon she began attending “A Caring Place,” a Lifetime Care program that assists children and teens deal with the loss of a loved one. In sessions guided by trained facilitators, Maya and others about her age took part in art projects, reflective play, puzzles and puppet activities, all designed to help them understand and express their feelings in a safe environment. (Parents/guardians meet separately.) In a presentation she wrote called “Changes,” Maya said, “My butterfly represents love and courage. It shows that love and hope can come to every family, even after a long rain or a sad time . . . She hatched out of madness and came out of her chrysalis and into the light of the sun again.” Maya also participated in a mass butterfly-release this spring with her mother and her grandmother.
When Lifetime Care nurse Sue Allman first came to visit Donald Cramer at home in Seneca Falls, he wasn’t very friendly, due to some bad experiences in the hospital. By the time she left, he did smile, and he came to look forward to Allman’s visits, according to his wife, Ann. But as his cancer advanced, he could no longer get around the house and Ann wouldn’t have been able to get him up if he fell. The last eight weeks of Don Cramer’s life were spent receiving hospice services from Lifetime Care in the serenity of Pines of Peace comfort care home in Ontario. Ann praised both the volunteer-run facility and the professional services her husband got. “It made Don’s last days, and our last days with him, the best possible under the circumstances,” she said. “On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it a 12.”